Skip to main content

Open data for the University?

It’s been an ambition of mine, since I started in Applications Division three years ago, to create a set of reusable interfaces onto the university’s core data sets, so that any university systems could have a consistent set of information about our courses, our people, our buildings, and so forth.  We’ve already taken some steps towards this goal.  Now I’m seeking requirements from learning technologists across the university as to what information they might need to provision and integrate their e-learning systems.

This is happening under the benevolent governance of the Distance Education Initiative (DEI).  The idea is that a course organiser can select a range of tools for her online teaching course, from a range of those available, with advice from their friendly learning technologist.  The DEI “data hub” will then provision those services with accounts for the people involved in the course, including students and tutors.  If people join or leave the course, their accounts will be updated automatically.

In addition, the various learning systems may share information back to central systems.  For example, the students’ marks could be uploaded to a central store, where students can see all their marks across all their courses.  Or if a student is struggling on a particular course, this could be fed back to their personal tutor, who could then decide whether they need to take any action.

To this end, I have arranged some meetings over the next couple of weeks, inviting learning technologists and service owners to tell us whether and how this sort of information could help them .  I will write up the results as a business requirements document, which will form the basis of a system design.  The actual implementation will probably proceed in phases, developing and deploying one interface at a time.  If all goes to plan, there should be a core system available this time next year, if not before.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

New staff for the EA team

I'm delighted to welcome Jason Murphy, who joins us as our CRM Architect, and Wilbert Kraan, our new Data Architect.  Both Jason and Wilbert have worked as consultants for several years and bring new skills and considerable experience to IS.  They both know more than I do about their respective fields, which is how I like to hire people.

So the Enterprise Architecture practice now comprises the three of us, instead of me working on my won, which means we have more capacty to guide the University's IT architecture.  We can offer a greater range of skills and can bring a wider range of experience to bear.  I'm really excited about the opportunities this presents.

As his job title implies, Jason will focus on contact relationship management, working to build a user community and to create a strategy for managing and improving the University's relationships with prospective students, research partners, community organisations, and other parties - to give them all a better …